A Florida woman says she was kicked out of a movie theater for breastfeeding, and now she is looking at legal options, WBBH (Fort Myers) is reporting.
Juliana Valverde says it all began with a misunderstanding that quickly spiraled out of control.
Valverde and a group of friends were discussing plans to go out together via Facebook, and eventually decided on seeing Bad Moms at the Bell Tower Theater in Fort Myers. Valverde said she believed that the group of about 50 moms had rented out the theater for the showing, because several other women said they were bringing their babies, as well.
“So I posted on there, ‘I have my baby; is it OK if I bring her? Because I’m nursing and my husband is out of town.'”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 2, 2016
As you may be aware, Bad Moms is rated R for language, nudity, sexual content, drug and alcohol content, and so on. That means that children 17 and under are not allowed in without a parent or guardian. And at Regal Cinemas, the chain that owns the Fort Myers theater where Valverde was kicked out, no one under six is allowed into R-rated movies at all.
Bell Tower Theater evacuated. More on WXCW @ 6:30 pic.twitter.com/RixnaM7XSf
— WINK News (@winknews) October 11, 2015
One of the moms that was there that night, Amber Cebull, tells KARE (Minneapolis) that she wasn’t aware that Regal Cinemas had such a rule.
“No one had communicated that children under 6 were not allowed in R-rated movies.”
Employees started asking the moms to leave — and that’s when things started to go haywire.
Valverde says she offered to leave with the other mom and try to get an explanation.
“There’s obviously an issue here, and it’s not the fact that the babies are watching a rated-R film, and it wasn’t that they were noisy because the one baby was sleeping… I didn’t know if it was because of us and nursing or what, but they didn’t say anything to the other moms with children.”
In what may possibly one of the worst possible examples of bad timing, Valverde’s 8-month-old daughter, Annabelle, started getting fussy. Valverde says she didn’t want to breastfeed her then and there — she says breastfeeding in public is “embarrassing” — but as any breastfeeding mother will tell you, there’s little choice when a baby is hungry. She began breastfeeding her baby — and that was when the manager had enough.
“And he looked at me with disgust and told me I needed to cover up or leave. Which I was covered up because I always have a blanket with me so I wasn’t fully exposed.”
It was then that Valverde was asked to leave. She and the other moms asked for refunds; whether or not they were given them is unclear.
At this point, it bears noting that the specific reason Valverde was kicked out of the movie theater remains in dispute. Regal Cinemas has not responded to repeated requests for comment, as of this writing, but it does appear that Valverde and her companions violated theater policy when they brought babies into an R-rated movie.
Valverde, however, maintains that her right to breastfeed in public has been violated. She’s hired an attorney, Sawyer Smith.
“It’s very clear that Florida statute gives a woman a right to breastfeed in public. In fact, the statute encourages us in the public or private sector to provide the comfort that is needed to breastfeed her child. And what we do from here is to reach out to Regal Cinemas and let them know there’s a woman in Fort Myers, Florida, who’s not going to put up with this.”
Do you believe that Regal Cinemas was right to throw out a woman who brought a baby to an R-rated movie, or was Juliana Valverde kicked out of the theater because she was breastfeeding in public?
[Image via Shutterstock/Anastasia Tveretinova]